Germany’s main opposition party the Social Democrats have been celebrating a slim lead in the key state election of North Rhine-Westphalia.
Latest projections indicate that although not winning enough to take the state on their own the SPD under Hannelore Kraft appear to have delivered a major blow to Angela Merkel’s centre-right coalition.
The loss of the state means the chancellor loses her majority in parliament’s upper house.
Although just 0.2 percent separates Merkel’s Christian Democrats and the SPD, with her coalition partners, the Free Democrats coming up short it spells defeat for the CDU state premier, Juergen Ruettgers.
The state vote is the first since September’s federal election and is widely seen as a referendum on Merkel’s government. It comes only days after she agreed a controversial multi billion euro aid package for Greece.